Books reviewed by James Woodward

The Church's natural spiritual constituency

Crying in the Wilderness: Giving Voice to Older People in the Church, Graham Hawley and Albert Jewell
MHA Care Group Derby, 2009, (1-902452-15-1), pp82, £4.00
(available from MHA:  ).

Many of us working in the area of theology and ageing in the UK are much indebted to the persistent, skilled ministry of Albert Jewell. In this short text, in an active retirement he has joined forces with another researcher, Graham Hawley as they translate their respective research into a practical challenge to the Churches. The thesis is that our British Churches are over preoccupied with attracting younger people in order reverse serious trends of decline. In this commitment older people are marginalised and overlooked.

These nine short chapters with three appendices argue that older people are the Churches natural spiritual constituency. We have much to learn from older people and the gifts, insights, continuing questions that they have to share as they embrace this stage of living.
The book is carefully organised. Theories, statistics, theology and research findings are presented clearly. The authors go further to relate the narratives to a pastoral action strategy. At the end of each chapter there are a number of suggestions of how individuals and groups might translate theory into practice. In this regard the book is also a model of good practice in the area of pastoral and practical theology.

This text opens up the importance of listening carefully to the narratives of older people. The book is full of experience, some of which challenges our understanding and practice of faith. These narratives are also related to key biblical texts as part of the invitation to the reader to a deeper wisdom about the process of ageing. Throughout the book the reader is asked to consider their own process of ageing and implicitly how faith might support our journey through the differing stages of life.

This is an excellent book and deserves the widest possible readership.

James Woodward

Published in Reviews in Religion and Theology Autumn 2010